Angela Eagle officially launches Labour leadership challenge against Jeremy Corbyn
Angela Eagle has officially launched her bid to unseat the Leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn.
Jeremy Corbyn sparked an internal party rift last month when he sacked Shadow Foreign Secretary Hilary Benn amid a rumoured leadership challenge in the wake of the EU referendum.
Mr Corbyn later resoundingly lost a confidence vote among the party’s MPs, by a vote of 172 to 40 – and faced more than 60 resignations from his frontbench team as MPs call on him to go.
He has struggled to find enough support to appoint a new team, axing a number of Cabinet roles including the dedicated equalities brief in a bid to ‘fill’ his shadow cabinet.
Out Wallasey MP Angela Eagle, a former close ally of Mr Corbyn who served as Shadow First Secretary of State until last month, has today launched a challenge.
Ms Eagle, who is on the soft-left of the Labour Party, officially launched her challenge today after repeated threats.
In a statement to PinkNews, she said: “On 11th July 2016, I announced my decision to stand for the leadership of the Labour Party. I would not do this if I did not think I had something to offer to bring our party and our country back together.
“And I would not do this if I did not think I could be a good Prime Minister for Britain. These are dark times for Labour. And they are dangerous times for our country.
“A referendum designed to settle an argument inside the Conservative party has resulted in the country being torn apart.
“Our economy damaged. Our society hurt. At this time, with a failed Prime Minister, and a tiny number of Conservative party members choosing the next one, our country needs a strong Labour Party.
“We alone can hold this right wing Tory government to account and then replace it by winning a general election.
“Jeremy Corbyn is unable to provide the leadership this huge task needs. I believe I can.
“I’m not a Blairite. I’m not a Brownite. I’m not a Corbynista. I am my own woman. A strong Labour woman.
“Labour as a force for good I believe in Labour as a force for good. I am rooted in and proud of our party, and believe in my country.
“I believe we are at our best when we come together to shape a future where everyone has opportunity, no matter what their background, no matter who they are. That is my mission in politics and in life.
“I stand for hope not grievance. I stand for equality, for social justice, for social mobility.”
She will need to get 51 nominations from MPs in order to make it onto the ballot. Labour Party rules state that all challengers must gain nominations, but it party rules are unclear whether Mr Corbyn will have to do so as an incumbent. If required to do so, he may fail to meet the threshold.
If victorious, Ms Eagle would be the UK Labour Party’s first openly gay leader – though Scottish leader Kezia Dugdale came out last year.
Back in May, Ms Eagle told PinkNews that she would happily stand as leader of the party.
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She hinted to PinkNews at the time: “I have to step very carefully here because we have a leader already… But, I enjoyed doing PMQs, let’s put it that way. I don’t think I did too badly.”
As she joined the majority of her colleagues in resigning from the shadow cabinet, she told the Mr Corbyn that the party needed a leader “who can unite, not divide”.
Rumours of Ms Eagle replacing Mr Corbyn first circulated in April, after frontbenchers and donors said that they see her as a viable replacement for Mr Corbyn, claiming she could unite the party in the event of a Labour civil war
The MP for Wallasey has enjoyed strong performances in the House of Commons since her appointment to the Shadow Cabinet last year, boosting the morale of Labour MPs.
Ms Eagle also performed well when she became the first LGBT MP to front Prime Minister’s Questions for her party.